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Get all of the information on Mavericks Volleyball with Luke Brietzke, Sports Information Director.

Senior Day reflections
7 p.m. Saturday, November 13, 2010

As a Senior Day tribute, the UT Arlington players wanted to express their memories and thoughts on the three seniors - Raegan Daniel, Christy Driscoll and Bianca Sauls.

"These three seniors will be forever remembered because they are all genuinely great people," Tara Frantz said.

"Their leadership has been so diverse," Amanda Aguilera said. "Bianca leads us with her energy, Raegan with her calmness and she is always collected and Christy with her leadership off the court."

Here is a look at the 2010 senior class, in their own words as well as the words of their head coach and teammates:

Raegan Daniel
A three-year captain, Daniel will finish her career ranked seventh all-time in UTA history in career assists and career attack percentage. Daniel also played her way onto two preseason all-tournament teams during her career. In the classroom, Daniel has been named to the SLC Honor Roll all four years.

Here's a look back in Daniel's own words:

Looking back: "I don't remember the games so much as the girls. I can play volleyball anytime when I'm done here. It's the girls. I love being part of a team."
Best match memory: "Probably Texas State this year at home because it was my last time to play them at home and we were able to win."

Here's a look back at Daniel's career on and off the court in the words of coach Diane Seymour and some returning UTA players:

Diane Seymour: "Obviously Raegan would have ranked higher on the all-time assist list if she had been able to start her freshman year. She was capable of it, but we got a really good transfer that year and Raegan understood. That allowed her to watch and learn a little bit. I'm definitely pleased with Raegan's performance on and off the court. She is well-deserving of being honored three times by her teammates to be named captain. She exemplifies everything you could want in a captain. She works hard every day. She is always ready to get to work and enjoyed the work she put in. She's a good leader in the weight room and is a good leader off the court as well. Anytime we need something done we go to Raegan to make sure it gets done. She's been there for her teammates and she's been a wonderful student-athlete as well. I can't say enough about her. It will be a tough one to see her go after spending five years with us."

Amanda Aguilera: "I'll remember her funny sayings on the court like, `We are weeening,' or `No problem.' She is sly about her comments - funny or smart."

Tara Frantz: "I will miss every single thing about this girl. Not only was she a great leader and captain, she was the greatest person off the court also."

Emily Gentle: "Raegan is such a great leader on and off the court and she is super-intense."

Charae Grosser: "Raegan is one of the funniest people I've ever met. She can turn the most boring moment into the craziest just by making one of her Raegan comments."

Taylor Jacobs: "Raegan performed so well as a leader by always making big plays happen with her sets." Jessica Jiles: "I have never seen such a strong, laid-back and motivated person. She inspires and gives me hope with everything I do. I have been looking forward to playing with Rae since I was in high school. I have never seen a setter as good as her."

Chelsea Mayor: "My favorite memory of Raegan is watching her act goofy in the locker room. I enjoy watching how experienced and comfortable she is on the court, how good the team chemistry is and how solid of a leader and player she is."

Alicia Shaffer: "We kick the ball back and forth before each home match."

Kendall Whitson: "I will always remember you reassuring me that you believe in me and teaching me to play for my team."

Christy Driscoll
A three-year starter, Driscoll has 274 blocks over her three years with the Mavericks. Her 108 blocks in 2008 rank third all-time on the freshman single-season list at UTA. Driscoll has made the Academic All-Southland Conference Team in each of the last two years and has been an SLC Honor Roll recipient in each of her three seasons.

Here's a look back in Driscoll's own words:

Most memorable match: "Probably the most memorable match for me wasn't a big win or anything. It was the first match I got to start in my redshirt freshman year against Jackson State. I had a really good match and I always remember that one because I had to wait a whole year to get to play. That's the big one to me, but every win is special to me - especially in conference."
"What will you remember: Probably that it was a lot of hard work but it was a lot of fun, too. I got to have great teammates and have great memories with them. I will remember all of that and they will always have a great place in my heart."

Here's a look back at Driscoll's career on and off the court in the words of coach Diane Seymour and some returning UTA players:

Diane Seymour: "We definitely saw Christy grow up a lot, for sure. She was a good volleyball player and a dynamite student when she got here, but the maturity in seeing her grow up into a young adult is probably the best thing about it. She's such a perfectionist and she struggled with that early in her career, but to see her mature and learn to handle that is going to help her in life. I'm pleased that over the course of the last few weeks she is playing the best volleyball of her career here and that's what we expected of her. We'd love to see her stay and play one more year, but I certainly understand her decision to move on and do what's important to her in getting that doctorate in physical therapy. She's very similar to Raegan - having been around her in club for four years before she got here, she knows exactly what's expected of her and she demonstrates that very well during practice and match play. If she's not getting her job done and has to sit on the bench for a few rotations, she never sulks or mopes about it and when she gets her chance to go back in she fixes it. I think our players around her can learn from that - there is an expectation for our student-athletes to meet on and off the court and we expect them to not whine about it. Just do the best you can. That's what Christy's always done."

Amanda Aguilera: "We call her Momma Christy because she helps us with everything: schedules, homework, packing, wake-up calls... everything!"

Tara Frantz: "I will miss Christy because she is someone I could always count on - no matter what the need is."

Emily Gentle: "What I will remember most about the play of Christy is that loud annoying scream when she comes off the court."

Charae Grosser: "Christy was like my volleyball mom. She would always tug me around the court and make sure I was in the right spot so I wouldn't get in trouble. She was my guidance in the gym while she was here."

Taylor Jacobs: "Christy was such a good role model for me to look up to. By watching her, I learned so much."

Jessica Jiles: "I will miss having the person on the team who hates changes and loves to do the same thing every time. I will also miss how smart she is and the fact that you can ask her anything and she will know the answer. Chris has always worked hard and it shows in her play. She is the best player that I have seen that gets around and kills the rep."

Chelsea Mayor: "My favorite memory of Christy is hearing her wild banshee yell at the beginning of every game. I always enjoyed seeing how Christy is a smart player and knows her way around the court so well."

Alicia Shaffer: "Momma Christy was always there to help me study and give me a shirt for practice."

Kendall Whitson: "I will always remember you making sure we are always doing things right! I will also remember you being the mommy of the team."

Bianca Sauls
A four-year starter, Sauls was named Honorable Mention All-Southland Conference last season. She is UTA's active leader in kills, and aces. Sauls was named the UT Arlington Hilton Invitational Most Valuable Player this season and has been named to preseason all-tournament teams five times in her career. Sauls made the Academic All-Southland Conference team last year and has made the SLC Honor roll in each of her three seasons.

Here's a look back in Sauls' own words:

Lasting memory: "Not my favorite match, but one I remember was the one against TCU in my sophomore year. That was a critical day in my UTA history that I clearly remember. I remember it because I had to miss the rest of the season. We had a big freshman class in that year and it really disappointed me because it was one less experience for me to play on the court and I knew it would hurt the team."
Best match memories: "I remember when we played Texas State last year and the game went to 41-39. I just remember it was so intense - taking a game that far with the back-and-forth and trading points. Even though we didn't win that game, it was the hardest I've ever fought. The North Texas match this year was a really good one too. The thing about North Texas is, because they're so close, we always play them whether it's in spring or during preseason and it's always a battle. Usually we come out with the win and we did again this year. It was really great this year battling with them." Looking back on UTA career: "Volleyball was basically my life in college. We do so much. We're always together. I think what I'll remember most is that we were a family. We all got along, which is nice because we always had good vibes and had good chemistry. I'm so proud of all my teammates."

Here's a look back at Sauls' career on and off the court in the words of coach Diane Seymour and some returning UTA players:

Diane Seymour: "She's a great one. We're not going to be able to replace Bianca. We'll have to find someone that can come close. You understand that as a coach or as someone who plays next to her because she does do everything. She sets the ball every bit as well as Raegan does and makes some incredible plays that way. She is very defensive and a very good blocker. She's obviously very offensive. She's come back in her senior year to feel pretty healthy and gone back to the jump-serve. She's been very aggressive with that. She's totally the emotional leader for our kids and just a super, super kid to have in the gym. She's good friends with everyone in there. She has a strong faith in her friends and her family and God and everything important to her and she exemplifies that every day: There are struggles you go through every day in life. Hers were some injury things and she overcame every time. I think we're seeing her really turn the corner over the last month and really play some very good volleyball. We're not going to be able to replace Bianca."

Amanda Aguilera: "I will always remember her pre-game dancing! She dances so awkward and makes everyone laugh."

Tara Frantz: "I will miss Bianca doing the "awkward" dance. She never fails to make me smile."

Emily Gentle: "Bianca is super-intense and always jumping and cheering for teammates and herself."

Charae Grosser: "The thing I will remember most about Bianca is that I was always laughing at her. She was always doing something crazy and weird that you can't help but just smile and laugh at."

Taylor Jacobs: "I will always remember how much energy she brings to the court and how well-rounded a player she is."

Jessica Jiles: "I just always saw her as more than a friend because we were so close off the court. I am not only going to lose a great teammate, but I won't have my great friend with me 24-7. Since I am aspiring to be the next right-side, I have always looked at Bianca's play. From her energy to her physical athleticism and ability to play, she has always impressed me."

Chelsea Mayor: "My favorite memory of Bianca is hanging out with her outside of volleyball and getting our eyebrows threaded. On the court, I enjoy watching her enthusiasm and heart for the game."

Alicia Shaffer: "I'll always remember her crazy dancing and her different moods all the time."

Kendall Whitson: "I will always remember how intense you get during games and your awkward dancing."

A look at the record book
3:30 p.m. Monday, November 8, 2010

Entering the final week of the season, this is a perfect time to take a look at where some of the UT Arlington players stand in the all-time record books.

For starters, libero Alicia Shaffer has already cemented herself in the records. Shaffer tied the program's single-match record when she recorded 43 digs at Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 27. Shaffer has also become the first player since Ashley Smith in 2006 to win back-to-back Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week awards.

With two matches remaining, Shaffer is already fourth in UTA single-season digs with 535. With six more digs this season Shaffer would move into third and she could move as high as second if she can tally 22 more digs before the season ends.

Shaffer is also climbing the career charts in digs. She has 1,315 in her career and would crack the program's all-time digs list with 55 more. If Shaffer can stay on her current pace this season and put together a strong senior season, she should challenge to become the program's all-time leader in digs. Smith is the current record-holder with 1,921.

Setter Reagan Daniel is wrapping up her career and should finish top-10 all-time in career attack percentage. She also ranks seventh all-time in assists with 2,799. Daniel is not likely to climb any higher because the next person on the list, Emily Nedderman, has 3,489 assists.

Looking back on a streak-ending win
2:00 p.m. Friday, October 29, 2010

Beating Stephen F. Austin has not been something that happened every year for the current UT Arlington players.

Until Wednesday, no current player had ever beaten the Ladyjacks. SFA had won 10 consecutive matches in the series and hadn't lost to UTA in Nacogdoches since 2000.

That all came crashing down when the Mavs posted their strongest defensive effort of the season, recording 116 digs in their five-set victory.

For the players, the win brought elation.

"It was a relief that we finally did it," libero Alicia Shaffer said. "It was at their home court and when we beat them it was step for us."

Before UTA won Game 2 in Arlington earlier this season, the Ladyjacks had won 28 straight sets.

The Mavs trailed 2-1 through three sets before getting back on track in Game 4. The set was tied 6-6 before UTA rattled off 11 of the next 12 points.

Middle blockers Christy Driscoll and Emily Shearin provided the biggest difference. They both got more involved in the offense, helping break Stephen F. Austin's spell over the Mavericks.

"I think especially for us older people, we know the history of it and we understand how long it's been," Driscoll said. "We understood the feeling of going to Johnson Coliseum and just being a really negative environment and all the loss that's gone on over there. We have been two good teams that have battled a lot. It just feels really good that we can be on the other side of it."

Reserves stepping up for Mavs
2:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Over the last few matches, several sparsely used Mavericks have come off the bench to contribute.

Charae Grosser is probably the best example. Grosser, a sophomore middle blocker, has spelled Christy Driscoll at times to add more offensive spark.

Grosser impressed coaches during the summer with her hard work and by staying to put in additional time. However, an elbow injury sidelined her for more than a month and left her needing to play catch-up.

Now she has claimed a bigger role on the team. Grosser has played sparingly in the last five matches and has five kills.

Though the blocking ability of Driscoll and Emily Shearin keep them firmly entrenched in the as the team's starting middle blockers, Grosser's offensive element gives UTA coach Diane Seymour another option.

"She goes around the setter and attacks from that back antennae pretty well," Seymour said. "She can hopefully get us out of some situations when our other two middles might be struggling. If not, you hope that she lights a fire under them that they need to increase their offensive numbers a little bit. Defensively, they've been blocking OK, but they're not putting up the offensive numbers we need from them."

Seymour also said she wouldn't be surprised if Grosser earned more playing time as the Mavs make their stretch run.

Outside hitters Eld-hah Kaswatuka and Emily Gentle have also been pressed into action because Tara Frantz has missed the previous two matches.

Kaswatuka started the first eight matches before Amanda Aguilera won the starting spot.

Kaswatuka struggled in her first match back in the starting lineup, but bounced back with 11 kills at Northwestern State.

Gentle, a true freshman, has three kills in the last two matches.

Looking Back: Seymour's 100th Win, UTA's First Road Win in '10
12:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- - - LAUREN SNOOK

Last weekend's five-game win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, marked UTA Coach Diane Seymour's 100th win of her career. It also gave the Mavericks their first win away from Texas Hall this year.

Seymour said her seniors were highly motivated and were a big reason why the Mavs pulled out the victory.

"I think everyone (breathes) that sigh of relief you get when you get that first win on the road," Seymour said. "That was a big step to come back at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi."

Seymour said the team didn't necessarily have to be undefeated on the road in order to have a good seed going into the Southland Conference Tournament. Instead, UTA just needs to perform at home while also playing at a .500-or-better clip away from home.

To accomplish that feat, the Mavs must find ways to continue their strong blocking game. They managed just six blocks in a loss at UTSA, but bounced back with 15 blocks in the win over the Islanders.

Seymour said blocking is a big momentum-builder and it was a key to the win on Saturday.

"[Emily Shearin]'s a big part of our blocking success," said Seymour. "She turned around and had a good performance on Saturday."

The defense hasn't relied solely on blocks. Libero Alicia Shaffer has played very well lately, posting 75 digs in her last three matches, and defensive specialist Kendall Whitson posted a career-high 14 digs at UTSA.

Seymour said, statistically, Whitson played better on Thursday, but she also took care of business Saturday. Whitson has performed well on serve receive and is very dependable on the routine plays.

"She makes the people around her more comfortable because she can handle her area," Seymour said. "She's not just a freshman out there getting some playing time."

On the offensive side, junior, outside hitter, Amanda Aguilera had 20 kills and 24 digs on Thursday against UTSA.

Seymour said this was the best Aguilera had played in the past two seasons.

"This is getting closer back to what Amanda was back when she produced very well for us during her freshman year," Seymour said.

Seymour said that having to come back from a deficit against TAMU-CC wasn't how she wanted to start the match, but it showed the team's fight.

She credited the seniors as being parts of the reason the other players have started putting up bigger numbers, performing well and not giving up.

"They're very, very tough right now," Seymour said. "They're making the others step up around them, too."

The Mavericks travel to Lake Charles, Louis. to take on Mcneese State on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7:00 p.m. Then, they head back to Texas to take on Lamar University in Beaumont on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

UT Arlington Volleyball Blog: Getting Back on Track at Home
2:30 p.m. Thursday, September 16, 2010
- - - LUKE BRIETZKE

The three-player race for the two outside hitter spots is warming up.

Tara Frantz and Eld-hah Kaswatuka started the first eight matches this season, but Amanda Aguilera has made a charge of late.

Aguilera, a junior, got her opportunity to step up over the weekend and made the most of it. In three starts, Aguilera compiled 32 kills and 21 digs.

Kaswatuka and Frantz both turned in strong performances during the first weekend, but have not consistently played up to their potential this season.

UTA coach Diane Seymour said Aguilera brings a renewed competitive streak to the position battle.

"Amanda came in and really helped out at that outside hitter spot for the weekend when Eld-hah and Tara both struggled a little bit," Seymour said. "That's a great bright spot and it should be a pretty good three-man race between the three of them to play that outside hitter spot from week to week. It's a good sign that, after sitting on the bench for a couple weeks, she was able to step up when we weren't playing well and put up some pretty good numbers."

Seymour had a hard time trying to put her finger on what caused her team's uncharacteristic sloppy play over the weekend.

The Mavericks struggled on the attack throughout the four-match stint at the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic. They also committed significantly more errors in every facet - attack, receiving and service - than usual. As a result, they came home from the tournament having lost all four matches.

"You've got to control your errors in every sport you play, but it's especially important in volleyball because everything happens so quickly," Seymour said.

Still, there were a few positives to take out of the weekend. Freshman setter Chelsea Mayor got her first game experience and proved herself at the collegiate level in close matches. Seymour said she wouldn't hesitate to insert Mayor into the lineup for a little extra defense or when she needs an aggressive serve.

The play of Kendall Whitson proved to be the other positive. Whitson, another freshman, played libero in the final three matches. Seymour said she was pleased with her overall effort.

"It was refreshing to know that, if we need to, we can make that switch at the libero," Seymour said.

Whitson's play also gives UTA an option depending on the matchups. Seymour said Alicia Shaffer is a little better defensively because of her experience and ability to read opposing hitters. Whitson adds a little more of an offensive dynamic because of her crisp, precise passes.

The Mavericks open the UT Arlington Hilton Invitational against UTEP, Friday night at 7 p.m. at Texas Hall.

They also face Prairie View A&M at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, returning to the court later in the night to play North Texas at 7:30 p.m.

This weekend will mark the first time since 1999 that UT Arlington and UTEP have faced off. Seymour knows Prairie View A&M presents a challenge because it took UTSA to four games on two separate occasions last year. She also hopes UTA can continue the Southland Conference's winning ways against North Texas, which is 1-4 against SLC foes this year.

More importantly, Seymour hopes her team can right the ship this weekend before heading into conference play.

"Streaks are made to be broken and streaks are made to be started," she said. "Right now we're on a five-match losing streak. It's time for that to stop and it's time for a winning streak to start. The biggest thing is to try to get our confidence back up before Southland Conference play starts."

UT Arlington Volleyball Blog: Preparing for the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic
4:50 p.m. Tuesday, September 7, 2010
- - - LUKE BRIETZKE

One set into last weekend, UT Arlington could have thought to itself how long the season might become.

The Mavericks allowed Arkansas-Little Rock to limit them to just nine points at Texas Hall and take a 1-0 lead over the hosts of the UT Arlington Maverick Classic.

With the team sitting on an 0-3 record, the negative thoughts could have crept into the players' minds.

Instead, the Mavs responded by winning their next 10 sets, including the first against Mississippi State on Saturday night. UT Arlington finished the weekend 3-1 with wins over UALR, Louisiana Tech and UT Pan American. The Mavs swept Louisiana Tech and UTPA.

Balanced scoring became a theme for the weekend. Setter Raegan Daniel did an outstanding job of setting up not just outside hitters Eld-hah Kaswatuka, Tara Frantz and Bianca Sauls, but middle blockers Emily Shearin and Christy Driscoll as well. Shearin and Driscoll combined for 57 kills and just 18 errors.

UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour pointed to their contributions as one reason the team found more success than at the Nike Invitational the previous week.

"That was huge for us," Seymour said. "That was one thing - we didn't think we got enough balls to our middle blockers in the opening weekend at Oklahoma and we really focused on that last week and talked to the two of them as well: Make sure you're up and available and ready for Raegan to get you involved because we need for the two of you to score. Obviously they answered very well. That's a good sign for us."

The high-power offense marked only one change from the previous weekend. UTA players also committed themselves to the defensive side.

Libero Alicia Shaffer recorded 78 digs for the tournament, including a pair of contests in which she finished with 23. Reserve defensive specialist Kendall Whitson also increased her production.

"Defense was the other focus," Seymour said. "We knew that if we got our dig production up as well, that would help get balls to our middle blockers. It was a combination there. Alicia had an outstanding weekend. I think Kendall's getting a little more acclimated to the college game and she has a great serve that keeps the opposing teams off-balance a little bit. She's starting to get some big digs in there as well."

It wasn't just the defensive specialists, either. Kaswatuka, for instance, posted 20 digs in the Mississippi State match.

The rededication to defense propelled the Mavericks to their strongest defensive effort of the season in a 3-0 win over UT Pan American. UT Arlington held the Broncos to a -.008 hitting percentage in the victory - keeping a team below .000 for the first time since the season opener in 2005.

Now the Mavs need to find a way to erase the troubles that have come with playing away from Texas Hall this season.

It will likely be a challenge. Improved teams from Boise State, Wyoming, Portland and a Northern Colorado team that won the Big Sky Conference in 2009 await the Mavericks at the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic in Laramie, Wyo.

Seymour said last weekend she wants similar kill numbers from Frantz and Kaswatuka, but would like to see them commit fewer errors on the attack.

If UT Arlington pulls it all together, the Mavs would have a chance to get Seymour her 100th career win. The seventh-year coach enters the weekend with 96 victories to her credit.

"I think we have to play with the same intensity we played with at Texas Hall here all weekend," Seymour said. "We only played poorly in maybe one or two sets all weekend here. We bounced back from our first set against Little Rock and we competed well against Mississippi State. If the intensity stays right where it was at the end of the weekend, we should be in good shape."

For more on this weekend's tournament, watch an interview with Seymour here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm11VN5Jusc

UT Arlington Volleyball Blog: Looking ahead at UT Arlington Maverick Classic
3:36 p.m. Thursday, September 2, 2010
- - - LAUREN SNOOK

UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour knows the importance of getting that sometimes-elusive first win out of the way early during this weekend's UT Arlington Maverick Classic.

The Mavericks were very competitive in two of three matches at the Nike Invitational in Norman, Okla. All three came against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams and the Mavs narrowly avoided an upset win over Miami (Fla.).

Now, the Mavs are ready to get things rolling at home with wins and - hopefully - a tournament championship.

UTA hosts four teams in the two-day, nine-match event - Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas-Little Rock and UT Pan American this weekend at Texas Hall.

Seymour gave an overview of the Mavs' upcoming opponents and what they are expecting from each of the teams, joking that the familiarity with the Trojans ought to provoke a name-change for the tournament.

"We should call this the `UTA-Arkansas Little Rock Invitational' they come every year, so we'll open up against an Arkansas Little Rock team," Seymour said. "They did lose to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi so that will kind of be an opponent that I think we can open up with our first win."

At 4-0 with a tournament title under its belt, Mississippi State could be considered the favorite entering the week. Last week, freshman setter from Mississippi State, Paris Perret, was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week.

"We haven't played Mississippi State in a long time, so we're looking forward to seeing them," Seymour said. "Obviously since they play in one of the better volleyball conferences in the country, they should be the best opponent we face in this tournament."

Still, Seymour said she likes her team's chances - if the Mavs play up to potential. She said she was anxious to scout the Lady Bulldogs play before they're across the net from them on Saturday night.

When talking about this weekend, Seymour emphasized the importance of bringing up the number of digs during each set.

"If we're going to lead the league in blocking, then we're going to have to pick up the number of digs we have," Seymour said. "As far as the Southland goes, and that's how I kind of weigh how we're doing, we're dead last in the number of digs per set, and that's got to change for us to be successful this season."

Seymour said that all-around defense improves each of the players' performances on the court. Blocking was a concern of Seymour's, but she has confidence that Emily Shearin, junior middle blocker will deliver.

"We need Emily to put up more blocking numbers for us, which will help our defense," Seymour said. "She is at her best when both parts of her game are going. If we're feeding her balls and she's getting kills for us, she blocks better, just because that's the intensity she has and vice versa."

Seymour added that Raegan Daniel, setter for the Mavs, will be utilizing her middle blockers more than she did last weekend.

"We're going to force the issue to get them more balls," Seymour said.

That should alleviate some of the pressure off outside hitters Eld-hah Kaswatuka and Tara Frantz, who combined for 59 kills last weekend. If the Mavericks can open up opportunities on the inside, it will spread out the defense and make everyone's job on the attack a little easier.

UTA opens the tournament Friday at 1 p.m. against UALR. All students who attend the game will be treated to a free lunch.

COURTSIDE VIEW

Get all of the information on Mavericks Volleyball with Luke Brietzke, Sports Information Director.

UT Arlington Volleyball Blog: Eye on the NCAAs
11:27 a.m. Thursday, August 26, 2010
- - - LUKE BRIETZKE
UT Arlington opens its season this weekend against three opponents that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009 - Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma and Wichita State.

For the young Mavericks team, the brutal competition in the Nike Invitational is a reminder from head coach Diane Seymour: That is the level at which she wants her team to play.

"Sometimes you look for tournaments where you can go and win and get some confidence," Seymour said Thursday before the team left for Norman, Okla. "Sometimes you pick some tournaments where you go and find out what you're made of."

The seventh-year coach has high expectations for UTA, who's win total jumped from seven to 12 wins a year ago. UT Arlington returns the bulk of its starting lineup from 2009 and was picked to tie for fourth in the Southland Conference West.

Seymour has her sights set much higher. She said this season, as with every season, the team's goal is to return to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Southland.

"I felt really good about this group of returners we have and I felt like this would be a really good opportunity to play three teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last year and find out where we stack up early this season," Seymour said. "If we win some of these matches, that will be great. No doubt. We are very capable of beating any of the three opponents."

UT Arlington proved last year that it can compete with some elite competition. The Mavericks had the Sooners against the ropes last year, leading 2-1 before Oklahoma won the final two games.

The UTA roster features just two seniors - setter Raegan Daniel and Bianca Sauls - but returns plenty of experience. So much so that a few players accustomed to seeing regular playing time might have to work their way into the starting lineup.

The fiercest competition has been at the outside hitter spot opposite all-Southland performer Tara Frantz . Amanda Aguilera , Emily Gentle and Eld-Hah Kaswatuka present different options for the coaching staff. All four are expected to get playing time this weekend, but Kaswatuka's blocking ability might earn her the first chance to start.

Gentle and fellow freshman Kendall Whitson , a defensive specialist, are both expected to get their first collegiate experience this weekend as well.

Seymour hopes her team, which has never had a player compete in the NCAA Tournament, leaves Norman with a better understanding of what getting the program back to that level will take.

"I think this is a good opportunity for us to see where we stack up against some of the best teams in the nation," Seymour said. "Especially our older kids, I think this opportunity will show us exactly what level we need to be at now or three months from now."

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    Mavericks Compete in Spring Tournaments
    2:57 p.m. Friday, April 16, 2010
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    It is the off-season and UT Arlington volleyball is in action. The Mavericks have been working out and preparing for the 2010 season with individual and team practices. Without a true season's schedule in the spring time, the Mavericks have taken in some spring tournaments where they have played top fight competition.

    This is only fitting as UTA's roster shows, now after two seasons with a young squad, they are battle tested and will be fighting for a Southland Conference championship in 2010 with a team that returns all but one player from a year ago.

    So far this spring the Mavericks have hosted a tournament (played Houston, North Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana Tech) and will play in their final spring tourney this weekend at TCU (playing Florida State, Kansas and Texas).

    In the tournament the Mavericks hosted, they played two sets to 25 points. In all four matches the Mavericks split sets with Houston, North Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana Tech.

    This weekend the Mavs will battle two of the top three teams in the nation from this past season and a Big 12 opponent who finished above .500. Texas, the nation's #2 seed entering the NCAA Tournament, lost in the national title match against Penn State in five sets. Florida State was the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and finished the year with a 31-3 overall mark while finishing in the Elite Eight of the national tourney. Kansas finished the season 16-14 and was eighth place in the Big 12.

    The Mavericks will see right away what their returners need to work on when playing against the nation's elite. That is one huge benefit to playing teams of superior talent, you can't just show up and win and dominate a match no matter how you play. Actually, you have almost zero room for error and execution is essential to compete even in a spring match.

    So with their final spring match just around the corner (@ North Texas - April 22), Coach Seymour and her staff will know exactly where they stand heading into two-a-days in the fall with a squad that needs no introduction to Maverick Volleyball fans as almost all of these players have already played many, many sets at Texas Hall since the 2008 and 2007 seasons.

    End of the Season Award Time
    10:37 a.m. Tuesday, January 26, 2010
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    Days following the announcement of the UTA 2000's Volleyball All-Decade team, it is now time to announce the winners of the 2010 End of the Season Awards... Like the Mid-Season Awards that were issued on Courtside View on Sept. 22, the final season awards will include awards for: Best Match, Best Offensive Player, Most Inspirational, Miss Clutch, Surprise Player of the Year, Best Individual Performance in a Match, Team Leader, Best Match in a Losing Effort, Player to Watch in 2010 and Team Most Valuable Player... Let the award show begin!

    BEST MATCH
    Award Finalists
    - UT Arlington 3, Arkansas State 2 (Arlington, Texas - Sept. 18)
    - UT Arlington 3, Lamar 1 (Arlington, Texas - Nov. 7)
    - UT Arlington 3, Sam Houston State 0 (Arlington, Texas - Nov. 5)

    And the winner is... UT Arlington 3, Sam Houston State 0
    Sam Houston State entered Texas Hall on an 11-match win streak and had an 11-1 Southland Conference record on their resume. That streak ended in a three-set sweep by the Mavericks as Amanda Aguilera tallied 14 kills and 10 digs while Tara Frantz notched 10 kills. The Mavs overcame two five-point deficits in the first set to win 25-22 and took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-19 second-set win. UTA was dominating at the net while the Bearkats were held without a block. The Mavs ended the match with a 25-17 victory in the third set. UTA held SHSU to a .094 hitting percentage. The Mavs held a total of eight opponents under a .100 hitting percentage during the year - which is the most during the Diane Seymour head coaching era.

    BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
    Award Finalists
    - Bianca Sauls (215 kills, 2.11 kills per set, .177 hitting percentage)
    - Tara Frantz (232 kills, 2.76 kills per set, .182 hitting percentage)
    - Amanda Aguilera (146 kills, 1.54 kills per set, .138 hitting percentage)

    And the winner is... Tara Frantz
    Sophomore Tara Frantz had a breakthrough season in 2009 as she became the first UTA sophomore to earn first team All-Conference honors since 2002 (Olaya Pazo). Frantz led the Mavericks with 232 kills and averaging 2.76 kills per set. She twice posted a career-high 16 kills, and she finished the season with seven double-figure kill matches during her last nine matches played.

    MOST INSPIRATIONAL
    Award Finalists
    - Teena Sobczak
    - Alicia Shaffer
    - Raegan Daniel

    And the winner is... Teena Sobczak
    The lone senior on the UTA squad, Sobczak finished her career on the sideline at the SLC Tournament after suffering a knee injury in her final match at Texas Hall on senior day. She didn't make an appearance in the post-season, but Sobczak was practicing with the team and was preparing to be available with a knee brace on to allow her to help the Mavericks should she have been called upon. Sobczak, who was also named to the UTA 2000's All-Decade team as a utility player, was exactly that during her career. Sobczak played the outside hitter position in 2006 and 2007 and was a regular in the back row her final two seasons. She collected 1,192 career digs while never having played the libero position for a full season.

    MISS CLUTCH
    Award Finalists
    - Alicia Shaffer
    - Tara Frantz
    - Emily Shearin

    And the winner is... Emily Shearin
    Perhaps one of the most difficult choices came in this category as many of the Maverick players stepped up in crucial moments during the season but on the biggest stage nobody shinned brighter than Emily Shearin. In the Mavericks first post-season appearance since 2007, Shearin made her first career SLC Tournament match count. The sophomore middle blocker had a career-high 17 kills and a .448 hitting percentage for the Mavs in a four-set loss against defending SLC Tournament champs Lamar. Shearin, a second team All-SLC selection, also led the Mavericks in the match with five blocks.

    SURPRISE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
    Award Finalists
    - Eld-hah Kaswatuka (85 kills, .181 hitting %, 32 blocks)
    - Tara Frantz (232 kills, 2.76 kills per set, .182 hitting %)
    - Emily Shearin (164 kills, 1.62 kills per set, .228 hitting %, 105 blocks)

    And the winner is... Tara Frantz
    After playing in only 50 sets with 91 kills and an .089 hitting percentage as a freshman in 2008, Frantz was a question mark heading into the season as to just how quick she could catch on and become one of the go-to-players for UTA. It didn't take long. Frantz became the main offensive weapon for the Mavericks going into the conference schedule. She picked up back-to-back all-tournament team selections at the UTA Invitational (9/12) and UTA Hilton Invitational (9/18-19) as she averaged 3.0 kills per set during the final two non-conference weekends. Frantz then performed at the highest level during SLC play averaging 2.91 kills per set and led the team in kills during eight SLC matches on her way to being named first team All-SLC.

    BEST INDIVIDUAL EFFORT IN A MATCH
    Award Finalists
    - Alicia Shaffer (27 digs - vs. Lamar SLC Tournament - Nov. 20)
    - Raegan Daniel (40 assists, 21 digs, 9 kills - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 12)
    - Tara Frantz (15 kills, .500 hitting percentage - vs. TCU - Sept. 19)
    - Bianca Sauls (19 kills, 6 digs, 5 blocks - at Illinois State - Aug. 29)
    - Emily Shearin (17 kills, 5 blocks, .448 hitting % - vs. Lamar SLC Tournament - Nov. 20)

    And the winner is... Raegan Daniel
    As the decision was difficult during the mid-season awards, this decision was even more difficult when you threw in the career-highs in kills by Emily Shearin at the SLC Tournament and the career-high in digs for Alicia Shaffer, also in the post-season. But what Raegan Daniel accomplished against Oklahoma at Texas Hall in a five-set loss still ranks as the top individual performance of the season as she was just one kill away from recording the first triple-double for UTA since the 2007 season. Daniel not only had nine kills, she recorded a team-high .320 hitting percentage and she tallied a team-high 21 digs and 40 assists. UT Arlington lost the match 25-22, 14-25, 25-21, 23-25, 6-15.

    BEST TEAM LEADER
    Award Finalists
    - Teena Sobczak
    - Bianca Sauls
    - Alicia Shaffer

    And the winner is... Alicia Shaffer
    Alicia Shaffer played everywhere she was asked and did well at each position. She stepped forward as a freshman in 2008 and was one of the team leaders and did the same during the 2009 season where you could see teammates constantly look to Alicia for guidance. She played at the outside hitter spot until Amanda Aguilera made her way back into the lineup and then she went back to her normal libero position for the remaining 15 matches of the season. Shaffer had at least 10 digs in the final 11 matches of the season and she posted career-highs in two of the final four matches of the year.

    BEST MATCH IN A LOSING EFFORT
    Award Finalists
    - UT Arlington 0, Texas State 3 (Arlington, Texas - Nov. 3)
    - UT Arlington 2, Oklahoma 3 (Arlington, Texas - Sept. 12)
    - UT Arlington 1, Illinois State 3 (Normal, Ill. - Aug. 29)

    And the winner is... UT Arlington 0, Texas State 3
    This might be a head scratcher to anyone who is reading this that wasn't at this match. Because all that needs to be said is 39-41. Let me fill in those of you who didn't make it out to Texas Hall to see the most points ever scored in a set in UTA history. The Mavericks and Bobcats battled in a second set that included nine set points for the Bobcats and had 21 ties. In just the second set, Tara Frantz had nine kills, Bianca Sauls posted seven and Eld-Hah Kaswatuka had six kills. Also in the set there were a combined 55 kills, 148 attack attempts and only 15 errors. The previous UTA record for combined points in a set was 72 (Sam Houston State 37, UTA 35 - Huntsville, Texas - Oct. 5, 2004). The SLC record for most points in a set is 82 points by Northwestern State and Lamar on Sept. 23, 2006 in Beaumont, Texas.

    PLAYER TO WATCH IN 2010
    Award Finalists
    - Bianca Sauls
    - Tara Frantz
    - Raegan Daniel

    And the winner is... Raegan Daniel
    The best thing about this category is every player is a candidate other than Teena Sobczak, which means the Mavericks return a boat load of players for 2010. Daniel, the quarterback of the Mavericks' offense, looks poised for a strong senior season after running the offense at the setter position for the past two seasons. Almost all of Daniel's numbers improved from 2008 to 2009, including her assists per set (8.52 - up from 8.19), digs per set (2.56 - up from 2.05) and blocks per set (0.50 - up from 0.40). Daniel had back-to-back seasons of playing in and starting in every set of every match and with the core of the Mavericks returning familiarity shouldn't be a problem for the Arlington native.

    TEAM MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
    Award Finalists
    - Bianca Sauls
    - Tara Frantz
    - Emily Shearin

    And the winner is... Bianca Sauls
    The one thing the Mavericks can count on is a dynamic performance from Bianca Sauls. She will lead the team in kills, put up a half dozen assists, put down a few aces, post double-figure digs and is usually at the top of the list in digs. Sauls is just one of those players - not only for the Mavericks - but in the conference that can do it all. Sauls, an honorable mention All-SLC selection and second team Academic All-SLC pick, earned a pair of all-tournament team selections at the Illinois State Redbird Classic (8/29-30) and UTA Hilton Invitational (9/18-19). She was the only Maverick to record over 200 kills, 100 assists, 200 digs and 50 blocks, once again showing she can do it all. Sauls, like many returning UTA players, is a key component to the Mavs' success, but what is exciting for Mavs' fans is they haven't even seen what Sauls is capable of producing and hopefully that will be on display during the 2010 season.

    Five Maverick Opponents Advance to NCAA Tournament
    2:47 p.m. Monday, November 30, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    The NCAA Tournament announced its field of 64 on Sunday, Nov. 29, while five of UT Arlington's 2009 opponents advanced to the national tournament. Ohio State (24-9), Oklahoma (18-11), Colorado State (23-5), TCU (26-6) and SLC Tournament champion Texas State (22-12) are all making an NCAA Tourney appearance. The Mavericks faced both Colorado State and Ohio State at the Colorado State Hilton Invitational (Sept. 4-5). UTA led Oklahoma at the UTA Invitational (Sept. 12) two sets to one, but the Sooners grabbed the victory with a fourth and fifth set win. TCU knocked off the Mavericks in three sets the following weekend at the UTA Hilton Invitational (Sept. 19). UTA faced Texas State twice, dropping both matches in three sets.

    Overall, the Mavericks faced nine opponents who finished with at least 20 victories and five of UTA's opponents finished with an RPI rating below 100 (Colorado State, 18; Ohio State, 31; TCU, 43; Oklahoma, 48; Central Arkansas, 93).

    Looking back at some of the Mavs' most impressive wins, five of them came against teams with better RPI ratings. The Mavericks defeated Georgia Southern in a three-set sweep at the Colorado State Tournament. Georgia Southern finished with a 21-10 overall record and 121 RPI. Entering the match with a 10-1 record, Arkansas State was the definite favorite against the Mavericks, but a five-set thriller went the way of UTA in the UTA Hilton Invitational. Arkansas State finished 22-11 overall and claimed a share of the Sun Belt Western division championship with New Orleans.

    UTA also collected wins over Southland programs Sam Houston State (163 RPI), Lamar (172) and UTSA (176) who all held rankings ahead of UTA, who was 184 in the final regular season RPI standings.

    Step By Step
    9:07 a.m. Tuesday, November 24, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    With the 2009 season coming to an end in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament, UT Arlington has a lot of accomplishments to look back on over the season and has a lot of optimism for the 2010 season.

    UTA struggled in the non-conference portion of their season, but following a 2-7 start, the Mavericks started becoming the team they would finish the season as while winning four of their next five matches midway through the season. The final 20 matches of the season UTA went 10-10, which includes an 8-8 record in the SLC. And that is coming off a conference season that saw the Mavericks go 3-13.

    Entering next season, the Mavericks will have four players on their roster who have earned a Southland All-Conference honor at some point in their career at UTA, and in addition, there will be three players that have been starters the past two seasons.

    In 2009, UTA led the conference in blocks during SLC play and had one of the top blockers in the conference (Emily Shearin), who has only been on campus for a year and a half. Bianca Sauls will return as one of the premier players in the SLC. She was a preseason All-Conference pick and finished the season named honorable mention.

    Amanda Aguilera finished the season averaging 2.59 kills per set after she assumed her outside hitter position after undergoing off-season elbow surgery. She finished the season recording four double-figure kill matches in the last five team matches of the season.

    Tara Frantz was the surprise of the season for the Mavericks and finished the year named first team All-SLC. She led the team with 232 kills and with 2.76 kills per set.

    The Mavericks' lineup will be almost exactly the same next season, as the Mavs had only one senior, Teena Sobczak, who will not be returning.

    Mavericks Sweep Pair of Matches- Getting Ready for Big Road Weekend
    5:27 p.m. Sunday, October 25, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    A pair of victories this past week put UT Arlington in sixth place among the 12-team Southland Conference with a 5-4 league record. The Mavericks improved to 5-0 at home with a pair of victories over Southeastern Louisiana (3-0) and Nicholls (3-2).

    The Mavericks now set out for something they haven't done all season - win on the road. Well, actually, they are setting out for something the program hasn't done since 2000 and since 2003.

    To explain, the last time UTA won at Stephen F. Austin it was Halloween during the final months of Bill Clinton's presidency in 2000. Still can't remember when that was. Here are some more hints: The Yankees defeated the Mets in the Subway Series, which is the Yankees last World Series championship, the cost of gasoline was $1.26 a gallon, a postage stamp cost 33 cents, Tiger Woods became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam in Golf, George W. Bush was about to defeat Democrat Vice President Al Gore to became the 43rd US President, although the final outcome wasn't a done deal due to voting in Florida, Microsoft just released Windows 2000, the show "Survivor" just completed its first season while Gladiator and Meet the Parents just hit the Silver Screen. Okay, so you get the point.

    And the Mavericks also haven't won a match in Lake Charles, La.., over McNeese State since 2003. I don't think I need to go through pop culture in 2003 for you to understand it has been awhile on that one also. Overall, UTA is 0-10 against these two opponents on the road during their last 10 tries.

    The Mavericks seem poised for a postseason tournament appearance with a 5-4 league record a match past the half way point in the SLC schedule. But one thing the Mavericks do understand is that the conference tournament isn't going to be located at Texas Hall, where they have enjoyed a lot of success this season with a 7-3 record, it is going to be played in San Antonio.

    That being said, the Mavericks will continue to work on picking up its first conference road victory since defeating Sam Houston State in Huntsville on Nov. 10, 2007.

    The Long and Winding Road to the SLC Tournament
    2:47 p.m. Tuesday, October 20, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    The Mavericks find themselves almost halfway through the Southland Conference schedule (Thursday's match marks eight down with eight to go) and there are two things that have been clear thus far: 1. The Mavericks can definitely win at home; 2. The Mavericks have struggled mightily on the road.

    For whatever the reason - other than the fact it is always tough on the road - the Mavericks find themselves winless on the road with a 0-7 mark. Against some very difficult opponents at home, UT Arlington has recorded a 5-3 record at Texas Hall.

    The Mavericks have two home matches this week against Southeastern Louisiana (Oct. 22 - 7 p.m.) and Nicholls (Oct. 24 - 3 p.m.) and both are key with the Mavericks sitting in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Southland Conference with a 3-4 record. Every match is important from here on out, but the home matches are almost a must-win with how things have gone on the road this year.

    But, the good news is UT Arlington fought first-place Central Arkansas to a four-set match last Saturday, on the road. The Mavs jumped out with a first-set victory (25-19) but then lost the three following sets.

    Central Arkansas looks to be the SLC favorite this season and for the Mavs to go into Conway and come away with a set victory and battle the Sugar Bears that gives hope to a team that will need to come away with at least one or two road victories to make it to the SLC Tournament.

    And with the Southland Conference Tournament in San Antonio this season (Nov. 20-22), the Mavericks will finish the regular season playing UTSA at the Convocation Center (hosting site of the SLC Tournament) on Saturday, Nov. 14. Hopefully the Mavericks will have gotten the road monkey off their backs before that point and can go down to San Antonio and play strong the week prior to the start of the conference tournament.

    Coaching, Mid-Season Adjustments Give Mavs 2-0 Start in Conference
    9:37 p.m. Monday, September 28, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    There are times throughout a season where coaches get too much of the credit and too much of the blame. Well, for anyone who witnessed the Mavericks win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - to move the Mavs to 2-0 in SLC play - on Saturday would know that Diane Seymour deserved A LOT of credit and was the reason why the Mavericks had a chance to make a comeback and defeat the Islanders, who led the match 2-1 after three sets.

    The Mavs won the first set, 25-23, and then Texas A&M-Corpus Christi took the second set 25-17. That is when Seymour made some adjustments. She moved starting outside hitter Alicia Shaffer to the libero position (where she started 29 matches last season) and brought Amanda Aguilera in to play outside hitter. Teena Sobczak, who finished with a team-high 20 digs in the match, was then moved to a back-row rotational player.

    Aguilera, who led the Mavericks in almost every offensive category last season, had yet to return to the outside hitter position due to undergoing off-season elbow surgery. The move that Seymour made - moving Aguilera back to the outside hitter position - was why the Mavericks won their fourth match during their seven-match homestand.

    Aguilera gave UTA all of the offense they needed with 10 kills (seven in the fourth set) in the final two sets to lead them to the come-from behind victory.

    Coaches sometimes get told, "It isn't about what you tell your players, it is what the players do that determines whether or not your team wins or loses," This is true, somewhat. Players are put in position to help their team win or lose, but the fine-tuning that goes into a match that coaches have to make based off of their knowledge of their team is what will help a team win a few more games each and every year.

    Seymour wanted to wait until next weekend for Aguilera to start hitting full-time from the outside hitter position. But, with seeing Aguilera's progress (started taking full swings from the back row the past two weeks) and keeping her on a strict rehab program, Seymour knew the switch - although not at the best time - was necessary and her team responded with its second conference win in as many matches. And more than anything, Seymour had to have known Aguilera was ready for the opportunity to return to her position that made her the first UTA freshman since 1990 to be named first team all-conference.

    And following the match in the post-match press conference, Aguilera said her elbow felt 100%. I know one thing, it sure looked like it.

    Yes, give the credit to the team for the victory, but also don't forget about the head coach who is the first person to give credit to her players for winning and is the first person to take the blame for a loss.

    Let's go ahead and give credit to Coach Seymour for making the move that helped the Mavericks start conference action with a perfect 2-0 record.

    Mid-Season Awards Handed Out
    2:57 p.m. Tuesday, September 22, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    The UT Arlington volleyball team has hit the mid-way point in their season, well, not really, but the Mavs have ended the non-conference portion of their schedule and they are now moving into Southland Conference play with their SLC opener on Thursday against UTSA at Texas Hall. Twelve matches down, 16 regular-season conference matches to go!

    The first-half of the season has been a rollercoaster ride at times, but here lately we are starting to see a much more polished version of the UT Arlington Mavericks. The Mavs started the season with tournaments at Illinois State and Colorado State with a match at Arkansas plugged in the middle. Against some difficult opponents the Mavericks went 2-5 during that stretch.

    Then the Mavs came back to Texas Hall to host back-to-back weekend tournaments where they went 2-3 against some strong opponents. UT Arlington enters SLC play with a 4-8 overall record and now it is time to hand out some awards for the first-half (or non-conference) portion of the season.

    BEST MATCH
    Award Finalists
    - UT Arlington 2, Oklahoma 3 (Arlington, Texas - Sept. 12)
    - UT Arlington 3, Gardner-Webb 0 (Normal, Ill. - Aug. 29)
    - UT Arlington 3, Arkansas State 2 (Arlington, Texas - Sept. 18)

    And the winner is.... UT Arlington 3, Arkansas State 2
    The determination on this award was simple, the Mavericks won a tightly contested match on their home court against a team that entered the night with a 10-1 record. Done deal. This has been the best match so far this season. Although the Mavericks dominated Gardner-Webb in their first win of the season, the runner-up in this category would go to the UT Arlington vs. Oklahoma match that went to five sets as the Mavs pushed the Big 12 Sooners to the brink. In this Mavericks' five-set winner against Arkansas State, the Mavericks dropped the first set 25-21 and then bounced back to win the second (25-22) and third (26-24) sets. UTA hung tough despite a 25-17 setback in the fourth set to win its first home match of the season with a 15-13 victory in the fifth set. Bianca Sauls had a double-double (13 kills, 17 digs) and Alicia Shaffer (21 digs) and Teena Sobczak (20 digs) each had over 20 digs each.

    BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
    Award Finalists
    - Tara Frantz (57 kills, 2.38 kps, .248%)
    - Bianca Sauls (94 kills, 2.24 kps, .124%)
    - Raegan Daniel (57 kills, 1.36 kps, .282%)

    And the winner is.... Tara Frantz
    If these awards were given out two and a half weeks ago Frantz wouldn't have even made the ballot, but since her emergence as one of the Mavericks top offensive forces, Frantz has been nearly unstoppable from the outside hitter position. And the committee felt like the old theory of, what have you done for me lately, stood true in this decision. During the last five matches, Frantz has been named to a pair of all-tournament teams, she leads the Mavericks averaging 3.0 kills per set and she has 57 kills (11.4 kills per match). For those fans and Maverick followers who have missed the Mavericks in their opening five matches at Texas Hall, might be dumb founded by this selection based on Frantz only playing in five sets before this homestand started on Sept. 12. But believe me, making a trip to Texas Hall this week to witness Frantz and the Mavericks begin SLC play will make you a believer in the Mavericks, and in Tara Frantz as the Mavs' top offensive performer.

    MOST INSPIRATIONAL
    Award Finalists
    - Raegan Daniel (322 assists, 112 digs, 57 kills, 17 blocks)
    - Alicia Shaffer (130 digs, 75 kills, 22 blocks)
    - Teena Sobczak (76 digs)

    And the winner is.... Alicia Shaffer
    This is the player that the Mavs rely on for emotion and grit through all the ups and downs throughout a match and a season. Shaffer came in and started every match for the Mavericks a year ago as a true freshman at the libero position. She led the Mavs in digs in 2008 and ranked sixth in the SLC. This season, Shaffer has switched positions and is now an outside hitter for the Mavericks due to Amanda Aguilera coming off a surgery that has limited her to back-row duty so far this season. Shaffer hasn't skipped a beat while still leading the Mavs with 130 digs and ranking second in kills (75) and third in blocks (22). Shaffer is the player who never hangs her head when times get tough and is always the first player who is there picking up a teammate when someone on the team is struggling.

    MISS CLUTCH
    Award Finalists
    - Emily Shearin (55 kills, 53 digs, 30 blocks)
    - Raegan Daniel (322 assists, 112 digs, 57 kills, 17 blocks)
    - Bianca Sauls (94 kills, 2.24 kps, 121 digs)

    And the winner is.... Raegan Daniel
    Daniel is in her second season running the offense for the Mavericks at the setter position. Daniel is a threat in almost every aspect of the game. She leads the Mavericks with a .282 hitting percentage, she has 322 assists (7.7 aps) and is among team leaders with 112 digs, 57 kills and 17 total blocks. Daniel can beat you in so many ways. She can come up with the difficult set that will still allow her hitters a chance to hit the ball hard, she can surprise the defense with a dump over the blockers and in front of the back row, she can pass and dig balls when attacks are aimed her way and she is one of the best in the league when it comes to putting down a pass for a kill that is heading over the net and is not able to be set. When the Mavs need a point or a big defensive stop, count on Daniel to have a touch on the ball.

    SURPRISE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
    Award Finalists
    - Eld-hah Kaswatuka (55 kills, 1.41 kps, 25 blocks)
    - Tara Frantz (57 kills, 2.38 kps, .248%)
    - Emily Shearin (55 kills, 53 digs, 30 blocks)

    And the winner is.... Eld-hah Kaswatuka
    Kaswatuka is another Maverick who has made a position change this season and the 5-foot-9 sophomore has had no trouble whatsoever in moving to the middle blocker position. Kaswatuka is second on the team in blocks per set (0.64) and is averaging 1.41 kills per set with a respectable .190 attack percentage. She led the Mavericks with six kills on 12 swings with only two errors at Arkansas and she has led the team in blocks twice and aces once this season. After receiving limited playing time last season as a freshman, Kaswatuka has made a strong debut this season and will be expected to continue those as the season moves forward.

    BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN A MATCH
    Award Finalists
    - Bianca Sauls (19 kills, 6 digs, 5 blocks - at Illinois State - Aug. 29)
    - Alicia Shaffer (8 kills, 8 digs, 6 blocks - vs. Texas Southern - Sept. 19)
    - Tara Frantz (15 kills, .500 hitting percentage - vs. TCU - Sept. 19)
    - Raegan Daniel (40 assists, 21 digs, 9 kills - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 12)

    And the winner is.... Raegan Daniel
    With so many phenomenal individual performances during the first 12 matches of the season, many performances stood out and just making the three, nope, had to go with four finalists was a difficult process. But Daniel's performance, against a Big 12 opponent, can't be overlooked as she just about became the first player at UTA since 2007 to record a triple-double. Daniel not only tallied nine kills, she recorded a team-high .320 hitting percentage in the five-set thriller, and she tallied a team-high 21 digs and 40 assists. With one more kill, Daniel would have been the first UTA player since Emily Nedderman to accomplish the feat. Nedderman had a triple-double against Miami during September of the 2007 season.

    TEAM LEADER
    Award Finalists
    - Bianca Sauls (94 kills, 2.24 kps, 121 digs)
    - Teena Sobczak (76 digs)
    - Raegan Daniel (322 assists, 112 digs, 57 kills, 17 blocks)

    And the winner is.... Teena Sobczak
    Teena Sobczak, the lone senior on the team, has been rock solid in the Mavs' back court since receiving the OK to begin play after suffering a foot injury in the preseason. Sobczak has led the team in digs twice, while having posted at least 10 in four of the last five matches. When the Mavericks need a spot-on-pass there is no better candidate than Sobczak to deliver the first pass en route to a point. Sobczak brings a lot to the table for the Mavericks, and not all of what she brings to the table can be seen in a box score following a match.

    BEST MATCH IN A LOSING EFFORT
    Award Finalists
    - UT Arlington 2, Oklahoma 3 (Arlington, Texas - Sept. 12)
    - UT Arlington 1, Illinois State 3 (Normal, Ill. - Aug. 29)
    - UT Arlington 0, Colorado State (Fort Collins, Colo. - Sept. 5)

    And the winner is.... UT Arlington 2, Oklahoma 3
    This didn't take the committee long to decide on this winner. No question that the Mavericks put in one of their top performances of the season, even with the "L" going next to the match when it was all said and done. In the match, UTA posted 59 kills and 86 digs - the most by the team this season - and saw many standout performances throughout the team. Tara Frantz had a breakthrough match with a career-high 16 kills, Raegan Daniel posted a double-double with 40 assists and 21 digs, Emily Shearin had eight kills, four digs and a team-high four blocks while Alicia Shaffer tallied her first career double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs.

    PLAYER TO WATCH IN THE SECOND HALF
    Award Finalists
    - Christy Driscoll
    - Emily Shearin
    - Amanda Aguilera

    And the winner is.... Amanda Aguilera
    You all didn't think I could leave the Mavs first team All-Conference performer out of the mid-season awards, did you? Aguilera has only seen action from the Mavericks' back court this season while coming off an off-season surgery. Aguilera is right on pace with her rehab and has been seen recently taking full swings, just not to 100% as of this date. Aguilera, who led the Southland Conference in kills per set and double-doubles last season during league play, is the true wild card for this Mavericks team heading into league play. With so many positions filled with talented young players, no player shined like Aguilera did in 2008. She will add an offensive punch to the Mavs' lineup, and depending on how quick she returns to her 2008 form, she could single-handedly take the Mavericks to the next level and make them a team that no team in the SLC would want to face in the SLC Tournament.

    TEAM MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
    Award Finalists
    - Raegan Daniel (322 assists, 112 digs, 57 kills, 17 blocks)
    - Alicia Shaffer (130 digs, 75 kills, 22 blocks)
    - Bianca Sauls (94 kills, 2.24 kps, .124%)

    And the winner is.... Bianca Sauls
    A true injustice would be if Sauls was left off the mid-season awards list. But the committee wasn't about to let that happen. As Sauls goes is how the Mavs go. She leads the team with 94 kills and has been named to a pair of all-tournament teams. Sauls put down a team best this season 19 kills in a loss against Illinois State, yet she is the one player on the team you always expect more from. That is because she is arguably one of the best players in the Southland Conference. What Sauls means to this team was made evident last season when the then-sophomore was out for 18 matches with an avulsion of the rectus femoris (muscle attached to the bone was partially torn off) of the upper quad-hip flexor. The Mavericks went just 3-15 with her out of the lineup. And with her missing that many matches, the SLC still had her listed on the preseason all-conference list. This season, Sauls has led the Mavs in kills a team-best seven times, led in digs four times and has been the team leader in blocks once. In her career at UT Arlington, Sauls has been named to four all-tournament teams, posted 13 double-doubles, tallied three 20-dig matches and had over 20 kills once.

    VB Team Looks for Wins in Final Home Tournament
    3:37 p.m. Thursday, September 17, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    Tomorrow the UT Arlington volleyball team opens the UTA Hilton Classic where the Mavs welcome Arkansas State, Texas Southern, TCU and Tulsa. The Mavs will play the entire tournament field except Tulsa, as they play in their final non-conference tournament of the season.

    This season and last season the Mavs have opened tournament play on the road and then have played back-to-back weekends at Texas Hall before opening SLC play. Hopefully this season the experience the Mavs will gain by playing on their home floor will help give them confidence heading into their conference slate.

    Look for the Mavericks to try and emulate the play they showed the home crowd last weekend against Oklahoma in the UTA Invitational. The Mavericks found a new weapon with Tara Frantz at the outside hitter position and Alicia Shaffer continued to produce as an outside hitter and help lead the defense with two straight matches with a double-figure digs total.

    The Mavericks open play at the Hilton Invitational on Friday at 7 p.m. against Arkansas State, and then they follow with matches on Saturday against Texas Southern at 12:30 p.m. and TCU at 7:30 p.m.

    Drawing Board is Starting to Look Much Better
    1:07 a.m. Sunday, September 13, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    For a team with a 2-7 overall record, many would think the path to success for the UT Arlington volleyball team is a dark and dreary path. That isn't the case, especially after the Mavericks performance in the final match of the UT Arlington Invitational at Texas Hall on Saturday night.

    The Mavs opened a seven-match home stand hosting UALR and Oklahoma on Saturday. The Mavericks struggled against UALR and couldn't find consistency throughout the match on offense, defense and with the level of intensity that it takes to defeat a strong team like the Trojans.

    Then the Mavericks came out for the 7 p.m. feature match of the tournament against Oklahoma. This was the team that the fans at Texas Hall really enjoyed watching and the team that defeated the Sooners in two of the five sets. The Sooners just last Monday received votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll.

    This group of players is exactly the same team the Mavericks had a year ago minus two seniors from last season and plus three freshmen that came on board at the start of August. By far this was the most competitive - against a very strong opponent - the Mavericks have been with this core group of players.

    UT Arlington and the home fans saw the ability of Tara Frantz, who was named All-Tournament after leading UTA in kills, kills per set and hitting percentage in the two matches. Entering Saturday Frantz hadn't collected one kill on the season. So there is a huge plus.

    Setter Raegan Daniel continues to impress as she was named all-tournament for the second straight weekend. She just about became the first UTA player to record a triple-double since former setter Emily Nedderman accomplished the feat in five sets against Miami (Fla.) on Sept. 1, 2007. And if you look at Nedderman's numbers (46 assists, 11 digs, 10 kills) verses Daniel's numbers (40 assists, career-high 21 digs, 9 kills) you could argue that Daniel's performance was better, especially when considering she did it against a Big 12 opponent that received votes in the top 25 poll that same week. Once again, another plus!

    The Mavericks also saw the return of quite possibly one of the most consistent defensive players in the conference as their lone senior, Teena Sobczak, started as the libero in both matches on Saturday. Sobczak led the team with 16 digs against UALR and then added 19 against Oklahoma. Hmm, I'm starting to see a theme to this. Yep, another plus!

    Alicia Shaffer has stepped in to a new position (outside hitter) after playing libero in every match as a freshman in 2008. Shaffer was a defensive standout as a freshmen ranking seventh in the Southland Conference and leading the Mavs with 387 digs a year ago. Now Shaffer is being expected to produce kills and score points from the outside hitter position.

    Since taking over as the starting outside hitter, Shaffer has collected 38 kills (third on the team in that period) and has still managed to be among team leaders in digs. In fact, Shaffer has had at least five kills in five of the last eight matches and she had been in double figures in digs in the past three.

    This is all coming with the Mavs top player from a year ago - Amanda Aguilera - on the sideline and back row just waiting to get back into the mix as one of the Mavs' top offensive threats.

    And don't forget about Eld-hah Kaswatuka, who in the last seven matches has led the Mavericks in kills and has ranked second in total blocks. She was a back up right-side hitter/outside hitter a year ago and is now one of the Mavs' top blocking threats in the middle blocker spot.

    Plus, Plus!

    And this is all for a team that currently stands 2-7? How could things be looking so bright? Well, don't forget who the Mavs' seven losses have come against. Let's take a look:

    Oral Roberts - a team that won the Mavs' first tournament
    Illinois State - lost on the road in a tough environment with over 1,000 fans at Redbird Arena
    Arkansas - An SEC opponent that is as athletic of a team the Mavericks have faced this season
    Colorado State - Probably the best team on the Mavs' 2009 schedule and a perennial top 25 program.
    Ohio State -Once again, a team in a major conference competing in the Big Ten. Also has seven, six-footers that are currently second in the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage
    UALR - Trojans are a tough non-conference opponent who has several standout players
    Oklahoma - Ranked just outside of the Top 25 at the start of this past week and is now 7-2 overall

    There are the seven teams that have handed the Mavericks losses. And when you add up all of those teams' overall records you get a 41-25 overall record (.621). Not too shabby.

    So at the end of the day, it is still back to the drawing board for the Mavericks, who will look for their first home win next weekend. But this time the drawing board will look a bit brighter with many of the Mavericks knowing the best is still yet to come.

    Home Sweet Home, Finally!
    5:27 p.m. Friday, September 11, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    After starting the season with three road trips that saw UT Arlington play its first seven matches of the season on the road, the Mavericks open their home schedule on Saturday while hosting the UT Arlington Invitational at Texas Hall. This is the longest the Mavs have been away from their home court to open a season since 2002 when the Mavs played their first nine matches on the road.

    The first two weeks of the regular season have taken the Mavs to Normal, Ill., Fayetteville, Ark., and to Fort Collins, Colo. As the frequent flyers miles have added up, several of the Mavericks have seen their first collegiate volleyball action and numerous Mavs are starting their second, third or for Teena Sobczak - the lone senior - fourth season with UTA.

    Off the court, one interesting encounter the Mavericks had was at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport when they saw former NFL star running back Herschel Walker. The former Dallas Cowboy and Heisman Trophy winner was entering the airport at the same gate the Mavericks were sitting at before boarding for Denver International Airport on the evening of Sept. 3.

    Walker played in the NFL from 1986-1997, and spent most of his career in the NFC East while playing for the Cowboys (1986-88, 96-97), Philadelphia Eagles (1992-94) and New York Giants (1995). One the linebackers who spent time chasing Walker around was Dwayne Jiles, who is the father of current Maverick freshman Jessica Jiles. Dwayne played four seasons in the NFL with the Eagles from 1985-88.

    Jessica went over and spoke to Walker to discuss the years her father played in the NFL, and right away Walker remembered Dwayne and the two talked for a few minutes. Several in the airport recognized Walker and came up and shook his hand and took pictures with him.

    The Mavericks have experienced several different restaurants along the way with some becoming new favorites and the others becoming just a short-term memory.

    One of the new favorite restaurants for the Mavs is Noodles and Co., but I believe members on the team felt their experience at the restaurant in Illinois was much better than the one in Fort Collins. Props to the Noodles and Co. in Normal, Ill.!

    Perhaps the top restaurant experience for the Mavericks was a trip to Pot Belly's for dessert after their final matches at the Redbird Classic in Normal, Ill.

    It has been a quick two weeks and now with three weeks on their home court - with a seven-match homestand - the Mavericks are looking forward to some home cookin' and to some strong competition coming to Texas Hall with UALR and Oklahoma starting the home slate with the UT Arlington Invitational.

    One thing to look for during Saturday's home-opening day of competition will be the UTA Volleyball alumni gathering that will take place at the Mavericks' match against the Oklahoma Sooners at 7 p.m. There are approximately 20 alums that are expected to make an appearance at their old stomping grounds.

    Mavericks Getting Set for Season Opener
    12:07 p.m. Friday, August 28, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    The UTA Mavericks are getting closer to the start of the 2009 season, just under five hours to be exact. The regular season starts today against Oral Roberts at 5:05 p.m. at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill., at the Illinois State Redbird Classic.

    After leaving DFW Airport yesterday around 1:30 p.m., the team landed at the Bloomington, Ill., airport close to 3:30 p.m. and then headed to get something to eat and check into the hotel.

    The temperature in Illinois was much different than what the players had experienced during their first two weeks on the campus of UTA. It was only around 80 degrees, but it was the humidity that was the first thing that jumped out when walking outside the airport.

    The Mavs had a brief 1-hour workout last night at Redbird Arena, a 10,200-seat arena that is quite a bit different than the gym the Mavs opened their season in a year ago.

    In 2008 UTA opened play at the Mean Green Classic in Denton where the gym is supposed to hold 600 fans. That is with a few of those 500 fans sitting on laps of others and standing along the out of bounds line.

    Quite a bit different this time around as Redbird Arena offers a spacious atmosphere. One thing Redbird Arena doesn't offer the four teams opening their season is air conditioning.

    When walking around the concourse of Redbird Arena before the start of practice I noticed several historical items. A few men's and women's basketball jerseys have been retired and hang in the rafters. The most famous would have to be Doug Collins, who was an All-American at ISU in 1973 and later went on to play for the USA Olympic Team, the NBA and also coached the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

    Also featured in several of the trophy cases and display cases are pictures and plaques of Will Robinson, who is known for breaking the color barrier in NCAA Division I Basketball. Robinson was the first African-American NCAA Division I Basketball coach in 1970. He coached the Redbirds from 1970-75.

    The players and coaches are excited to start the season and they will have solid competition in their first seven matches, which are all away from Texas Hall, before hosting tournaments on back-to-back weekends in Arlington. The Mavs take on Oral Roberts, Illinois State, Gardner Webb, Arkansas, Georgia Southern, Colorado State and Ohio State in their first seven matches.

    Mavs are Off and Running
    9:37 a.m. Tuesday, August 11, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    Yesterday marked the first official day of volleyball season for the 2009 UT Arlington Mavericks. The Mavs reported to campus last Thursday (Aug. 6) so they could take physicals, receive equipment and take part in the first meetings of the year. They had dinner as a team on Saturday and then began practice on Monday.

    The Mavs have exactly 18 days of practice before they open their season at the Illinois State Redbird Classic in Normal, Ill., August 28-29. The first day of practice was quite a bit different yesterday than it was a year ago. Last season there were eight first-year players that severely out-numbered the returning players so obviously it took a lot of time just getting everyone on the same page. Yesterday the returning players (nine of them) took charge and led the way helping the freshmen figure out where they needed to be and practice ran very smooth.

    The first day is all about getting players acquainted with the team's drills, to learn coaching terminology and start communicating with one another and as a team to build chemistry which is the most important factor for any team.

    Move In Day is Getting Closer, Practices Start Next Monday
    4:27 p.m. Tuesday, August 4, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    The start of August is here and that means in just a few days the Mavericks will arrive into Arlington and two-a-day practices are just around the corner.

    The volleyball team moves in on Thursday, August 6, and then practices begin on Monday, August 10. Only three newcomers arrive into preseason workouts this season compared to eight freshmen a year ago. Teena Sobczak enters her fourth season with the Mavericks and is the lone senior on this year's squad. Last season UTA had only two seniors, Ally Wade and Michelle Schwartz.

    Although there won't be many four-year players on the court when practices begin, there are a lot of returners who all know this is the crucial part of the season even though there aren't any matches scheduled any time soon.

    UT Arlington Volleyball Blog: Introducing, Courtside View
    11:27 a.m. Tuesday, July 21, 2009
    - - - SCOTT LACEFIELD
    This is "Courtside View" the official blog of The University of Texas at Arlington volleyball program. The UT Arlington website (www.utamavs.com) received a major facelift with the re-design of its website on July 21, 2009, and now fans will have the ability to follow the Maverick Volleyball team all-season and off-season on Courtside View.

    It won't be long until the action on the court begins, but until then, players will report, two-a-days will begin and that is where the team's success and foundation will be built. The Mavs return nine letterwinners and welcome three newcomers to the team this season. The nine returners won't have too many gray hairs as six of the returnees were just starting their collegiate careers last season. Despite not having a ton of experience, the Mavericks do have several impact players who played, if not in all, most of the matches as a freshman and gained invaluable experience even though the season ended with just seven wins.

    Teena Sobczak is the lone returning senior, but what a senior to return. Teena has played a vital role for the Mavericks since her freshman season in 2006 and showed promise last season of being able to handle a leadership role with once again, a very young team.

    We are just a few weeks away from the start of another preseason with players set to move in less than three weeks. Stay locked in to all that is happening with UT Arlington volleyball right here at Courtside View.

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